5 Tips for Choosing Accounting Software

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Trying to choose accounting software? With the number of choices available, it can be daunting to research. Follow these 5 tips for an easier decision!

Decide what you’ll be using it for.

Are you a one-person operation with a need to file monthly receipts? Or a multi-national conglomorate with thousands of accounts to balance and millions of dollars to manage? What you’ll be using the accounting software for will dictate which software you choose, and which features are more important.

For example, it may be more important to the one-person operation to have automatic account synchronization with the online banking system, since there is likely only one bank account to worry about. This is a handy, automatic way to manage financial data.

For the corporation, however, multi-user capabilities and security may be the highest priority.

Look at what your company needs now, and for the next 5 years. While the software itself may not stay current, many software companies provide free updates (or less expensive updates for existing users.)

Decide who will be using it.

Do you have an accounting or payroll department who is skilled in financial management software? If so, a user friendly environment may not be as important to you.

For many independent professionals and small businesses, however, the Owner – who manages most of the businesses operations in all areas – or one of the other staff members is responsible for accounting. The computer literacy and technical knowledge of this person will dictate how easy to use your software must be.

When you know where you’re going, it is far easier to get there.

What are your technical requirements?

Does your company operate their own server or intranet that hosts their information? Do you use primarily PC or Mac? Windows or Linux? Will there be a dedicated computer system, or will this be on a system used for other things as well? The answers to each of these questions will make a big difference to your purchase.

For example, a company looking to add accounting software to their receptionists Windows based notebook computer will want something that doesn’t consume too many resources to store and run, and they’ll want to ensure it is capable of operating on a Windows based PC.

A company with a dedicated Mac system for their accounting software will have no concern for space requirements, but a big concern for capability – will the software they choose be available for a Mac system?

What features do each solution offer?

Now that we’ve determined what features you need for your company, the user, and the environment it will be operating in, take a look at your software choices.

For example, imagine you are a freelance graphic designer. You are a single person company, and need to manage your incoming and outgoing cash flow. You run a Mac system, as most graphic designers do, and it is the computer you use for everything. You have a high level of technical knowledge with computers, but little knowledge of accounting software.

You may want to look for a solution that has a very simple interface, automatically synchronizes with your bank’s online banking system, will work on an Apple computer, and uses very little in the way of resources and storage.

Weigh the cost, and decide.

You have likely selected 1-3 choices based on the features you need. If you’ve already made your decision, congratulations! If you haven’t, now is the time to weigh the cost of the solutions you have selected against the features you need. Is there a less expensive solution that does what you need, without the bells and whistles? Is it worth losing a few crucial features to save a few dollars? Only you can decide.

Following those 5 tips, you should be able to easily choose the accounting software that is right for you!

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